The sound of a heart beating envelops the theatre as Abbey sits on the stage with a book in her hand.
Within seconds, the heartbeat quickens and Abbey’s right leg begins to bounce up and down as she looks around.
Then, there is the sound of a door opening and closing. Abbey stands up as her friend Arabella O’Shea walks across the stage at Garibaldi Secondary and pretends to strike her across the face.
The girls, along with two other group members, Farah Ibrahim and Jasli Van De Polder, were making their final presentation for the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative on behalf of Cythera Transition House Society, that provides shelter and safety for women and children who have been impacted by domestic violence and abuse.
However, this re-enactment was personal for Abbey, as she announced during the presentation that her mother was a victim of domestic abuse.
Abbey was able to keep her emotions under control when they first made their presentation in front of their class. However, her mother, was in the audience for the final presentations on Monday.
“When I saw her crying it really changed my perception on the whole story because it’s kind of putting her in the situation and reliving it,” said Abbey.
“So when I saw her crying it really did kind of make me, not upset, but realize what actually happened was really hard to talk about,” she added.
There were eight 10-minute presentations on Monday from the winning teams in seven Grade 9 classes at the school.
The winning team gets $5,000 for their charity.
Charities being advocated for included the Friends In Need Food Bank, the North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Association, Stepping Stone Community Services Society, Alisa’s Wish, and Make A Wish Foundation.
This is a special year, said Carlos da Silva, lead teacher for the Garibaldi YPI project, because it is the 10th year they have been participating in the initiative.
“We can happily say that we’ve raised over $50,000 for charities in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, in our local community,” he said.
Youth and Philanthropy Initiative Canada is an inclusive, multi-award-winning approach to grant-making where hundreds of thousands of dollars are given to community-based social service charities as decided by high school students across the country.
It was founded in 2002 by Julie Toskan and formally established by the Toskan Casale Foundation, the original Canadian creators of MAC Cosmetics.
The goal of the initiative is to grow compassionate communities by connecting high school students to social issues, local charities, and philanthropy at a pivotal stage in their adolescence.
The program is offered secondary students across a grade level as a project within a mandatory course.
Teams of students then learn about social issues affecting their community and choose a charity to research and visit that addressees one social issue and present them to the their peers.
Final presentations are judged by a youth-led panel.
To date more than $17,000,000 has been awarded to charities across Canada, the United Kingdom and New York City, as decided by more than 500,000 secondary students.
It is supported by a combination of large, national organizations to small, regional foundations and local businesses across the country.
Judging at Garibaldi was led by a team of four students who were last years winners of the YPI grant. Helping them were city councillor Judy Dueck, school board trustee Kim Dumore and school drama teacher Cynthia Lacroix.
Winners will be announced following all of the presentations.